Tuesday, 15 January 2013

The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory

This a book review on one of my favourite novels of all time by an author called Philippa Gregory. As suggested by the title this book follows the famous Boleyn family of the Tudor era and their struggle for power throughout the reign of King Henry VIII. It focuses on Mary Boleyn, the youngest - this is disputed by historians and the book has been criticised for its historical inaccuracies - daughter of Thomas Boleyn, 1st Earl of Wiltshire and Lady Elizabeth Howard, Countess of Wiltshire. It is told from Mary's perspective and illustrates her relationship with the King giving birth to two of his children but being unable to hold his attention long enough to make her his queen. Mary's older sister Anne is then thrust in his path and is much more cunning than Mary; she is able to make the King fall so madly in love with her that he seeks a divorce from his current wife, Catherine of Aragon, breaks from the Catholic church and in turn begins the Reformation. He marries Anne making her Queen of England. Her inability to give him what he wants above all else - a male heir - makes the King question her allegience and he eventually has her accused of witchcraft. Like many of Henry's wives Anne ultimately loses her head to the axeman's sword however her strength of spirit is well shown in this text and also in the film adaptation released in 2008. Blonde and meek Mary is portrayed by the lovely Scarlett Johansson, dark and brooding Anne is played by the beautiful Natalie Portman and the handsome but troubled king is played by Australian actor Eric Bana. I am a complete history buff and love the Tudor era for its formal customs, fancy dress and courtly reputation so anyone with the same interests would really enjoy this book.

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